With its top performers returning from its Division I postseason lineup, the Delaware Hayes boys golf team is hoping to build on the turnaround season it posted a year ago.
After finishing 0-24 in the OCC-Cardinal Division in 2017, the Pacers went 18-10 in league play last season.
Back after competing in a sectional at Denison Golf Club last season are senior Luke Gazarek and sophomores Colin Bibler, Brady Gazarek and Mark Sulek. Also returning are senior Sam Bonofiglio and junior Ben Madden.
Sophomore Tyler Brown rounds out the roster.
"This is a special group and it's nice to go to these tournaments and have other coaches pointing out that we've got such a young lineup," third-year coach Andy Graham said. "We have the potential to go sub-300 this year and I don't know how long it's been since we've done that."
At sectional, Sulek lost a two-hole playoff for the final district-qualifying berth after shooting a 78 and Brady Gazarek carded a 79.
"Luke is the glue to the team," Graham said. "He organized a Pacers summer league for all of the kids to make sure they were working on their games. He's a true leader who always puts forth his best effort and he genuinely cares for all of his teammates."
The Pacers are 9-5 through two rounds of the league tournament. They shot a 315 in the first round Aug. 6 at Apple Valley to finish third behind defending champion Dublin Jerome (301) and Olentangy Berlin (308). Luke Gazarek carded a 75 to lead the team, followed by Sulek (76), Brady Gazarek (80) and Bibler (84).
In the second round Aug. 12 at Turnberry, the Gazarek brothers both shot a 77, followed by Sulek (79) and Madden (83), as Delaware finished fourth (316) behind Jerome (297), Bradley (300) and Berlin (306).
The Pacers won the 11-team Mike Nesselroad Invitational on Aug. 7 at Oakhaven, shooting a 305 as Brady Gazarek was medalist (70) and Luke Gazarek tied for third (76). Sulek posted a 79, followed by Madden (80).
"The sophomore class is the deepest class I can remember here," said Graham, whose team was 41-17 overall before a match against Westerville North on Aug. 15. "But we're not working just for the future. We have a solid group of guys this year and they're working hard to be a part of something special."
Girls golf team looks on par for good year
The girls golf team is off to a strong start after returning five of its seven athletes from last year.
The Pacers shot a 350 in the first round of the OCC-Cardinal tournament Aug. 7 at Mentel Memorial to place second behind defending champion Jerome (320) and ahead of third-place Hilliard Darby (376).
On the same course in league play last season, Delaware shot a 363.
Sophomore Hayley Dye, who was an individual Division I district qualifier last year, was medalist in the opening round, carding a 72 to finish five strokes ahead of runner-up Ash Abhang of Jerome.
Junior Faith Eden (86) was next for the Pacers, followed by junior Izzy Crissinger (93), senior Alyssa Stultz (99) and junior Gabrielle Weckerley (104). Also on the roster is senior Franny Sferella.
Delaware shot a 370 in the second round Aug. 14 at Blacklick Woods to finish third behind Jerome (310) and Darby (356) as Dye carded a 77 to tie Jerome's Emma Sparling for second behind Abhang (73).
The third round is Aug. 28 at Royal American and the final round is Sept. 4 at Cooks Creek.
The Pacers finished second (15-4) in the league last season behind Jerome (19-0).
"Hayley is a strong player with experience in competitive play," third-year coach Rob Stultz said. "Faith, Izzy and Gabrielle practiced all summer and their scores are showing it. Our depth is very strong this year. We even have a lot of competition fighting for varsity spots week in and week out."
Dye posted a 79 in a sectional at Royal American last season to qualify for the district tournament at Cooks Creek, where she shot an 85 to finish 26th of 54 competitors.
Girls tennis team seeks improvement
The girls tennis team has returned just three players who competed in a Division I sectional last season, but fourth-year coach Dede Hibinger likes what she sees.
"We are very deep, with eight girls who could step up and play second doubles," she said. "The goal has always been to turn a recreational program into a competitive program. We now have girls that are playing year-round, which will eventually elevate our program."
Returning after competing at sectional last season are juniors Alana Kay and Grace Martin and sophomore Evelyn Mignanou, who teamed with 2019 graduate Renae Haferman in doubles and reached a district-qualifying match before being eliminated.
Kay was third-team all-league in singles last season for the Pacers, who finished 7-10 overall and 2-5 in the OCC-Cardinal to tie Darby for sixth behind champion Jerome (7-0).
"Evelyn is a steady baseliner," Hibinger said. "She had a very good freshman year with a record of 19-8. We look for her step up and continue to grow as a player."
Mignanou began the season at first singles, with Kay at second singles, junior Lily Tope at third singles and Martin and junior Meredith Keller at first doubles.
Playing second doubles to begin the season were seniors Abbey Eyerman and Sydney Wolf. Senior Olivia Wallace also is expected to see time at doubles.
Rounding out the roster are sophomores Chloe Kannally, Sophia Midura and Eliza Riggs.
"Alana Kay, Lily Tope and Grace Martin have been playing since their freshman year and provide the core of experience of our team," Hibinger said. "Olivia Wallace was new to the game last year, but has put in a lot of hard work and her game has developed tremendously. Most of those girls were on the j.v. team that went 13-3 last year."
The Pacers opened Aug. 10 with a home invitational, placing third with 19 points behind Olentangy (23) and Marysville (23) and ahead of Buckeye Valley (12), Worthington Kilbourne (11) and Westerville North (10).
Eyerman and Wolf were runners-up at second doubles, Martin and Keller were third at first doubles, Kay was third at second singles, Mignanou was fourth at first singles and Tope was fourth at third singles.
Delaware, which lost to Bexley 5-0 on Aug. 12, opened OCC-Cardinal play Aug. 15 against Darby.
Below are the coming schedules for the Delaware Hayes cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 24 -- Baron Blast at Buckeye Valley
Aug. 22 -- Marysville at Darby Creek
Aug. 20 -- DeSales at Oakhaven
Aug. 22 -- Thomas Worthington and Westerville North at Rolling Meadows
Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Fairbanks
Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Groveport
Aug. 20 -- Watterson at Ohio Dominican
Aug. 22 -- At Olentangy Orange
*Aug. 20 -- At Dublin Scioto
Aug. 21 -- Home vs. Mount Vernon
*Aug. 22 -- At Thomas Worthington
*Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby
*Aug. 22 -- At Dublin Scioto
Aug. 24 -- Pirate Invitational at Cardington